Taking Their Cut No Matter What

by digby

I gotcher disaster capitalism for yah, right heah:

The average Californian's taxes would shoot up five different ways in the state budget blueprint that lawmakers hope to vote on this weekend. But the bipartisan plan for wiping out the state's giant deficit isn't so bad for large corporations, many of which would receive a permanent windfall.

About $1 billion in corporate tax breaks -- directed mostly at multi-state and multinational companies -- is tucked into the proposal. Opponents say the breaks will do nothing to create jobs, and the Legislature has rejected such moves repeatedly in the past. But now, to secure enough Republican votes to pass a budget that would raise taxes on everyone else, the Legislature is poised to write them into law with no public hearings at a time when the state treasury is almost out of cash.

The tax breaks were inserted into the spending plan during private meetings between legislative leaders and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Less than 24 hours before today's scheduled vote, the proposals had not yet been printed in bills and made available to the public, but legislative leaders acknowledged them.

Most of the cost to the state -- or $690 million -- would come from changes in the way corporate taxes are computed, lowering the amount owed by many large companies. Smaller tax breaks are included for Hollywood production companies and small businesses that hire new employees.

"This is a pure giveaway for the vast majority of corporations that will benefit," said Lenny Goldberg, executive director of the California Tax Reform Assn., a union-backed nonprofit. "They will walk away with a great deal of money at everybody else's expense."

GOP lawmakers, aided by a small group of Democrats, have been pushing the tax breaks for years, along with such companies as NBC Universal, Genentech and Intel, as well as the California Chamber of Commerce and the California Taxpayers Assn. They say the breaks are an incentive for businesses to expand operations in California -- or at least not to leave.

The lawmakers have previously sought unsuccessfully to leverage their votes on a state budget, which can pass only with a two-thirds majority, for the tax breaks. This year they had more leverage, because the compromise requires them to support $14 billion in temporary tax hikes on average Californians, something they had vowed never to do.

Those tax hikes will force most California adults to pay hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars more each year in a combination of higher vehicle license fees, sales taxes, gasoline taxes and income taxes. Dependent-care credits claimed by millions of families would be cut by about $200 annually. The increased taxes would remain in effect for two to four years.

Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher (R-San Diego), said the proposed corporate tax breaks are intended to keep the recession from spiraling deeper in California while unemployment is soaring.

"We have a tax code that incentivizes moving jobs out of the state," he said. "It only makes sense to change that. . . . We want to be a state that welcomes job creation. The benefits of this will be substantial."

Conservatism has been stripped of everything but its essence --- cheap thugishness. I honestly can't remember a time in the last 30 years when they weren't holding a gun to the states' head no matter what the economic climate. If times are good they have to cut taxes. If times are bad they have to cut taxes. It's no wonder that the regular folks decided they shouldn't have to pay taxes either.

I guess it puts the federal stimulus package in perspective. The reason the Republicans didn't vote for it was simply because it didn't include enough goodies for their corporate owners. In that sense, I guess it was a huge win for liberal principles.

Oh, and in a delicious bit of irony, I'm sure you recall that Schwarzenegger won office in a recall. And that recall was based upon a hissy fit engineered by the Republicans over Gray Davis' attempt to pay the states' bills by reinstating a modest car registration fee. Now, the same man who arrogantly strutted around calling Davis a girly man has presided over the worst economy in a generation, having done absolutely nothing while times were relatively good to set the states' finances right and is now raising taxes on everything in sight. (Except certain corporations, of course, which are getting breaks because they will leave if they don't, just like the banks which are "too big to fail." It's never easy to govern this state, but Arnold certainly made it sound that way when he ran his substance free campaign.

If the shoe were on the other foot, the Republicans would be recalling Arnold right now. Just like the corporations, they always take advantage of disasters to further their own agenda.